1. Be foreseeable
When do seeds of mistrust arise? When someone starts to think, What’s up? Why is he doing this? He’s never done that before. That is so not like him. He manages to lose 30 pounds, purchases a new wardrobe and comes home late from work. He changes his habits. His behavior becomes unpredictable. You get the picture? Any movement away from predictable behavior can become suspect and trust can deteriorate.
Focus on acting predictably if you need to build trust. Be consistent in what you do.
This doesn’t mean you must be uninteresting. If there is a twinkle in your eye and a measure of spontaneity once in awhile, for goodness sakes be natural and fun supporting. But, be natural consistently! Be honest to who you have always been and be that constantly, whoever you are typically!
2. Notify your significant other when you become “unpredictable.”
Nobody goes through life the same person. All of us make shifts and changes. Frankly occasionally we can be quite clueless about what is happening and where we are going. Those moments can be extremely intensive and we do many silly things or reach some downright dumb decisions. Life can get really idiotic and capricious. (I have a popular saying: Gold is refined through intense heat.) Growth in an individual, marriage or family usually is accompanied by some chaos.
Welcome those shiftings, for there is a part of you looking for something better/different/richer/deeper, however for heaven’s sake, inform your spouse of what you are living. Say, “I really don’t know what is happening in me presently, but I’m moving in a different path. Be a bit patient with me while I figure this out. I might do a few stupid things, but my intent is not to hurt you or scare you. Allow a few of my wondering and roaming and please be here for me? I may have to run some of this by you once in awhile!”
3. Make sure your words go with the message
Mean what you say and say what you mean. When your lover hears one thing in your words however your tone of voice, body language and facial expression is really implying something else, you open the relationship to some crazy making days. Which message is she to believe? This may cost a huge amount of energy and she learns not to trust part of what you are saying.
Here’s a very simple but common example. You are getting prepared to go to a formal dinner. Your wife comes to you and says, “How do I look?” (And she’s wearing a dress you don’t particularly appreciate and her hair is pulled back in a way that turns you off.)
Not to ruin the evening you enthusiastically say, “You look great.” You don’t actually mean it and a part of her is aware you really don’t mean it. But, you leave it at that.
This might not appear like a big issue – all of us have done something comparable – but if trust was shaky in the first place, it is even shakier now.
Here’s how to match the words using the nonverbal: “I think you are a beautiful person. I want you to know that. I love you dearly and it will be wonderful to have you by my side tonight. Other people will see your beauty. (As you say this, you look into her eyes as you place your hands around her waist.)
She’s not concerned so much with how she looks but is expressing a necessity for affirmation. She’s not talking about her dress or hair, but about wanting to know the evening is going to go just fine. You respond to the actual message.
It is possible to take this one step further, if you like. Eventually you might bring up her need for affirmation and talk about that. Ask her if there is anything you can say or do so that need is met.
Trust is recognition of the intent in accordance with the obvious message and responding to that!
4. Trust the other person is capable
This phrase is heard very often: “But, I don’t want to hurt him.” A couple things are at play here. First, she may not have the ability of confronting the other with the truth in a way that brings reconciliation and understanding. She believes truth telling is destructive or involves some kind of crisis. None is correct. The truth is in no way destructive and can be brought up in loving manners. (With that said, what we consider to be the truth may indeed be a altered notion that fits our personal requirements.)
Or, she may see the other person as a wimp; someone she believes cannot deal with demanding personal confrontation. She doesn’t believe that the other person has the internal strength or stamina or skills to be in a relationship of mutual respect and equality. The other person picks up on this doubtfulness and does what he does (pretends inadequacy and incompetence) to stay away from the personal confrontation too. A dance is acted out.
Believe and know in your heart that the other person, somewhere and somehow, underneath the games, has the inner power and ability to handle anything. Such trust builds trust in the other person and starts to affect strongly the relationship. “Hey, she thinks I can handle this! Hmmmm, this is mighty good! I CAN engage her and be truly intimate!”
5. Be very very careful of keeping secrets
If he is aware there is an elephant in the room and doesn’t discuss about it, the elephant uses up huge space within the relationship. It requires energy for him to walk around it. She may not notice the elephant but understands he is bending his neck to look around something. She is going to be curious, mildly disturbed, have feelings but no words to wrap around them, could ask herself if something is wrong with her or have difficulty with trusting her instinct (her instinct KNOWS an elephant is there.) And, when we can’t trust the messages that come from inside of us, we find it very hard to trust the messages of the other person.
Secrets demand a large amount of energy and deteriorate trust. The relationship is doomed never to discover wall-banging intimacy. For this reason adulterous affairs are so damaging. She is not so much concerned about him having sex with someone else as she is about the unfaithfulness, lack of trust, the secrets and deception that are crazy making and energy draining.
But, please. I’m not saying that you sit your partner down and confess the 23 secrets of your illicit past behaviors. If you have solved those, i.e. pardoned yourself, have an understanding of those behaviors, learned from them and could benefit from them to make the inner adjustments needed for your own development, they are not considered as an elephant. Hopefully, during growing intimacy in your relationship you may want to share some of those events while you reveal to your spouse where you were and where you are now. You do so without emotional cost.
However, if a secret takes up room, i.e. continues to have an emotional load and blocks you from revealing more and more of yourself in the growing phases of intimacy, you have got a problem that needs to be sorted out with your partner.
6. Let YOUR needs be known – fully
Be a little – no, be a lot – self-centered. (Be self-centered, but not egoistic!)
Here is an issue I run into just about every day. He is getting distant (perhaps attached to work, some other person, etc.). She feels the trust and intimacy deteriorating, is scared and wants to “win him back.” As a result she starts an full-scale effort to “work on the marriage.” She invites him to do the same. He may hesitantly consent. She blasts head down forward trying to “be nice” and fulfill every need he ever said he had. She’s will “fill his tank with goodies.”
It doesn’t work. Her eyes are riveted on him. He feels “smothered” or maybe even resentful: “Why is she doing this NOW!” She is optimistic, but eventually that turns to resentment. Her fundamental motive – if I meet his needs, he will feel great and satisfy mine – simply doesn’t work. It’s seen as manipulation, which it is. Naturally, he doesn’t say anything. After all, how do you get angry with someone who is so “nice and caring?”
Trust disintegrates under a blanket of quiet niceties.
Start with your eyes concentrated on YOU. What do YOU need? Investigate your personal need system. Look beneath the surface. And then tell him: “I need x, y and z. I would like to talk to you about them. I would like us to figure out a way so my needs are met. Do you think you’re open to that?”
He is empowered to say yes or no. Or, he may say, “What about my needs?” You respond, “I am very excited about hearing what is important to you, certainly.”
Have you ever been close to someone who stated plainly what they needed/wanted?
Didn’t you respect that person?
Simply because you understood where he stood, and therefore where you were standing, didn’t that interaction move toward a trusting relationship?
7. Affirm who YOU are – loudly
It is very sad to see those in relationships of emotional investment hold back from letting the other person know who they really are.
You build trust in a relationship by entrusting your SELF to the other person.
This sounds easy but I find it difficult for most to accomplish. Most of us have a hard time affirming our SELF. For one thing, if you’re like the majority of us, you haven’t given much thought to just what makes YOU genuinely YOU. Don’t you feel like you float through life on autopilot, focusing on tasks, goals, accomplishments, problems and the outside realities?
Don’t you tend to focus on those things out there or that person out there? You’re interested in what he is thinking, how he is responding to you, whether he likes you, whether he will be an obstacle and where he will fit in your life?
Your conversations may be pleasant but fairly superficial and candidly, to an excessive degree insubstantial. You converse about things/relationships/events out there. You are reluctant to share your feelings, values, and impressions or take a stand. This doesn’t destroy trust. But it doesn’t create it either.
And, if you do take a stand it may serve the purpose of protecting you or entrenching you as you react against someone. This more often than not creates trust barriers.
Take some time to reflect on your standards. What are your standards for a relationship? What standards do you hold for yourself? What do you order your life around? What are the 4 top values in your life? What are some themes that you live by? What are you known for?
And then begin letting significant people in your life know.
They will respect you. They will know you more deeply. They will thank you for the opportunity to know you. They will see you as a person of character.
They will trust you. They can count on you. They know exactly what is behind and within you.
8. Learn to say NO!
Sometimes you need to say NO! Often it is crucial to say NO!
Saying NO sets boundaries around you that protects you from being hurt or venturing into territory that will be destructive to your heart and soul. You draw a line. You stop tolerating that which drains energy and makes you less than YOU. You refuse to allow the destructive behaviors of others to destroy you. You build a moat around the core of your life.
You do this by informing the other person of what they are doing. You request they stop. If they don’t stop, you demand they stop. If they don’t stop you walk away without a snide remark, eye-roll or comment.
To some this seems harsh, but saying NO is RESPECTED.
Fear is the basis of mistrust. If you fear that someone will hurt you and believe you have no recourse but to endure that hurt, fear will prevail. How can you trust when you are in fear?
Saying NO, protecting yourself, sends a message to the other person that you will not live in fear. This usually triggers a response of respect from the other person. After all, if you can protect yourself and refuse subjugation to that which is destructive, will not the other person come to trust you and see you as a person who just might protect him/her from harm as well?
9. Charge Neutral
When your significant other expresses something powerfully, charge neutral.
Most of us are afraid of strong feelings or points of contention in a relationship. I commonly hear people respond by defending themselves (to a perceived attack), explaining themselves, counter-attacking, shutting down, or walking away. Of course, the relationship remains stuck in this quagmire of mistrust and fear.
Rather than reacting and having your feelings flowing all over the place or shutting down, practice charging neutral.
Communicate calmness, not only in your tone of voice but also in how you carry your body. Don’t speak with a charge to your voice. Control your voice! Say what you must say, state the truth and do it directly and calmly.
You can do this, once you master your fears. It will dramatically change the flow of the relationship.
You will be able to point out something big, without making a big deal out of it. You will be in control of you. This not only feels great, but your partner trusts that you won’t fly or fall apart.
You will experience your personal power. This makes you very attractive. Don’t people really trust someone who knows their personal power and how to use it for the welfare of themselves and others?
Your partner will love the fact that she can trust you consistently to operate from your “quiet center,” remain engaged, not back down and speak the truth with conviction and calmness.
10. Dig into the dirt
Relationships of emotional investment, by their nature, bring trials, tribulations, fears, chaos, turmoil, change, stretching and growth. They become the grist from which your life is shaped and formed.
Be fearless when faced with turmoil, upset, crisis, questions, and fears. When the time is right, seek them out. Move toward the frightening unknown. Dig into the dirt of your relationship and uncover the treasures. Do you really TRUST that this can happen?
The purpose of your relationship is not to make you happy. Do you realize this? Happiness may be an outcome, but your other is given to you to move you to where you really want to be.
Obstacles, trials and moments of pain are given as lessons on which you intentionally write the script of your life individually and together. Embrace the difficult. Trust that in this embracing you will find more of your true self.
Trust that you are given the resources and capacity to face what you and your significant other are to face.
Once you are able to believe and trust these ultimate purposes, trusting your significant other will be that much more easy.